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Posted: 7/18/2013 5:32:36 PM EST
Hey guys. I have some questions about home generators.

First, a little back story. I live on the East coast in a very rural area. Hurricane Sandy left me without power for 15 days. I was lucky that a buddy had an old Sears 1100 W unit he loaned me after the first week. Was enough to get by on but it drank about a gallon of gas every 45 minutes. In the aftermath of Sandy fuel was non-existent. I was lucky that I have alot of fuel cans. When a tanker came to town I was able to stock up with enough to get me through for a few days. I didn't run the generator all the time. Just a bit here and there to keep my fish from dying and to watch a DVD at night.

This week I was on Craigslist selling something for a friend when I looked up "generators" There are quite a few and I saw an old (Very old) 3500W Listed as "Not running" for $75. I bought it, bad gas and all. 30 minutes later I had it running. I then scored a Coleman 200W unit, not running for $50. Again, bad gas. Tonight I bought a 5000W for $50. It's in the back of my convertable as I can't lift it out myself. I shot it with some starting fluid and gave it 2 pulls and it stuttered and stalled. So, more old gas....

I've been mentioning this to friends and family and my hippy BIL already offered me $250 for the 3500W unit. So now I'm thinking of selling them all and buying one big one to run my whole house. Running or not running, there are deals out there !


Here's what I need to know. How big ? I'm in a modest 2 BR house. Forced air/oil heat. Electric water heater, Electric stove, Fish tank, Electric dryer, water pump, big TV and computer. I know I can't run everything at once.

What to look for ? Hondas are expensive and I don't see any listed as not running. Generac seems to be a popular one. Are off brands alright ? I see a few big ones cheap that don't run but they have Briggs and Stratton engines. Is B&S still considered quality ?

And what's with this oil change stuff ? My neighbor bought one after the storm and he was complaining it needs it's oil changed every 20 hours. Then again he's a huge liberal beta male who doesn't even own a screwdriver.

Any help would be great !
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 5:45:27 PM EST
There are folks that are much more knowledgeable about this subject in the survival forum here on ARF.com.

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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 5:45:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/18/2013 6:20:47 PM EST by Skibane]
Originally Posted By zoominiroc:
So now I'm thinking of selling them all and buying one big one to run my whole house.
View Quote


The problem with big generators is that they consume big amounts fuel.

Your "big one" will consume 0.2 gallons of gasoline per hour, per KW of power being produced.

So, for example, if you're producing 10KW to "run everything in the house", you'll be burning through 48 gallons in just 24 hours.

The other problem with big generators is that they aren't particularly fuel-efficient even when powering small loads.

For example, a 15 KW generator will consume a gallon of gasoline in just a few hours, even with no load connected to it.

For this reason, it's good to have a small generator for powering small, long-running loads, and a bigger generator that's only used to power the occasional load that requires it. Not only does this conserve fuel, but it also cuts down on noise most of the time, and doesn't leave you without power if one of the generators breaks down.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 5:48:37 PM EST
Do you have natural gas service? This is a solid option. Tri fuel models are handy. Obviously the load balanced approach mentioned is valid.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 5:52:07 PM EST
I've been thinking about buying a military surplus trailer mounted one. There are usually some available on the gov auction site for super cheap and most of them are pretty low hours. I've seen them as small as 5kw. They do use diesel though.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:30:04 PM EST
Skibane's 80/20 Generator Rule: During an extended power outage, it doesn't take much generator power to maintain 80 percent of your normal standard of living. However, if you insist on also having that other 20 percent, IT WILL COST YOU DEARLY.

After Katrina, some folks were without utility power for over a month.

How much fuel would you need to store in order to keep a large generator running for over a month?
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:39:25 PM EST
If you have natural gas service at your house, that could be a very good option. If you don't have natural gas, you may want to see how much it would cost to have a large storage tank installed. Base the size of the tank off how much natural gas a generator sized for your home would need for however long you think is reasonable.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:39:59 PM EST
If natural gas is an option, go for a generac. Set it and forget it
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:43:47 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Bigshot64:
If natural gas is an option, go for a generac. Set it and forget it
View Quote


I dealt with the same issues living in rura,NJ. I bought a generator the runs on naturak gas.

No more gas lines for me.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:46:52 PM EST
get one that will run on Gas, LP and NG.
Or convert one that will
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:47:50 PM EST
Storing gasoline is difficult, and it has a short shelf life.

Nat gas is a good alternative, but if not available, propane is the way to go. Large tanks are relatively inexpensive and there is no shelf life on propane.

Plus smaller generators set up for propane are still portable as they will run off Gas Grill tanks. Also, no old fuel problems with nat gas or propane.

Any gas powered generator can be converted to propane.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:52:45 PM EST
Have an 8500w air cooled stand by. Runs on LP. ( even though I have NG available), with a 100gal horizontal tank ( more surface area for evap) My transfer switch was only rated for 50a so I have a 50 breaker feeding the ATS which feeds a generator panel. From this panel, I fed all my lighting, one outlet in each room, both fridge/freezers, microwave outlet, forced air heat, and my fire/security system. Sensitive electronics are on small UPS systems for stability. Installed it a couple years ago, it exercises 20min a week unloaded and I topped off the tank once so far.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:53:22 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By rjbergen:
If you have natural gas service at your house, that could be a very good option.
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After a hurricane or earthquake, getting your natural gas service restored often takes even longer than getting your utility power back on.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:53:24 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/18/2013 6:58:48 PM EST by jacobsk]
I just snagged this one Monday. The price was a little steep for a 5kw unit on GL but it does have the 3/4 ton trailer and after all it's only got 46 hours on the meter

MEP-002a

If you're patient and watch for listing events with greater quantities, you'll see these gensets going in the $4-600 range.
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 6:55:17 PM EST
Hotel is $100/day. Can buy alot of fuel for that.......
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Link Posted: 7/18/2013 7:00:19 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Iggyort:


I dealt with the same issues living in rura,NJ. I bought a generator the runs on naturak gas.

No more gas lines for me.
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Iggyort:
Originally Posted By Bigshot64:
If natural gas is an option, go for a generac. Set it and forget it


I dealt with the same issues living in rura,NJ. I bought a generator the runs on naturak gas.

No more gas lines for me.




Hey Iggy ! I'm in rural Jersey as well. Sussex county.

When you say natural gas you're talking propane correct ?

We have NG down on the main road but it will be years until they pipe it up into my little lake community.


I guess I could buy a big propane tank. I like the idea of selling the 3500W and keeping the other two. I could run the better part of the house with the 5000W during the course of the day. Shower, laundry, keeping the house warm.....

I could use the little guy to watch TV or DVDs in the evening before bed and keep the fish alive.

If I sell the 3500W to my BIL I could get a couple of big gas cans or even a 20 gallon drum or two. I'd still be FAR ahead $$$ and as long as I filled them before a big storm I'd be in good shape.

I'm retired and living on a fixed income.

Thanks for all the great advice ! Keep it coming !
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